2003 CPEO Military List Archive

From: Lenny Siegel <lsiegel@cpeo.org>
Date: 19 Jan 2003 19:17:59 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Sun: Toxic Legacy of Military Haunts Bases
Toxic Legacy of Military Haunts Bases

Risks: Despite years of cleanup, discarded weapons and
chemicals are still turning up, sometimes close to homes.

By Ariel Sabar
Baltimore Sun 

January 19, 2003

First of two parts 

CASCADE, Md. - A recently closed Army base might not be everyone's idea
of paradise, but Sharon Garcia saw enough to like about Fort Ritchie and
its picturesque mountain setting to move her family here a few years

The place grew on her. She bowled in a league at the Sunshine Lanes. Her
neighbors came to her door with cookies. And her son Jonathan found
friends among the children settling with their families into the modest
townhouses that once housed soldiers. 

Then the base's past intruded. In late 2001, Army crews discovered
grenades, mortar shells and a bazooka rocket in a field 250 feet from
the houses. 

The Army had assured a developer three years earlier, before the base in
Washington County closed, that the houses were safe to rent to the
public. Now it was telling Garcia and 110 other families that their
houses may have been built atop projectiles from World War I and World
War II firing ranges. 

The Army ordered Garcia and the others to find new homes, so that it can
start searching lawns for buried explosives as early as this summer. 

"Nothing was explained to us about the potential dangers," says Garcia,
44, who wonders why weapons that old are being discovered only now. "All
these years, no one ever said anything." 

Nearly 30 years have passed since the military vowed to clean up the
toxic waste it buried decades ago on bases across the country. But
today, as many bases are poised to declare the cleanup job complete or
to start new lives as parks and housing subdivisions, there is fresh
evidence of just how much the military has missed. 

The pollution includes leaky underground fuel tanks, pesticides, buried
chemical weapons, experimental bacteria, radioactive waste and live
explosives. Much of it is now spreading through soil and ground water,
sometimes into public water supplies. 

Although the military is making measurable progress, it is still
stumbling across decades-old dump sites, raising questions about the
thoroughness of its earlier investigations. 


For the entire story, see


Lenny Siegel
Director, Center for Public Environmental Oversight
c/o PSC, 278-A Hope St., Mountain View, CA 94041
Voice: 650/961-8918 or 650/969-1545
Fax: 650/961-8918

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